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A guide to the fish associated with deep water coral reefs

McCrea, M.1, Costello, M.J.2, Freiwald, A.3, Lundalv, T.4, and Jonsson, L.4 
1 Ecological Consultancy Services Ltd, B19, K.C.R. Industrial Estate, Kimmage, Dublin 12, Ireland 
2 Huntsman Marine Science Centre, 1 Lower Campus Road, St Andrews, New Brunswick, E5B 2L7, Canada 
3 Institut für Paläontologie, Universität Erlangen, Loewenichstr, 28 91054 Erlangen. 
4 Tjarno Marine Biological Station, Sweden

The rate of discovery of reefs of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa in the eastern Atlantic has been remarkable, resulting largely from the increased use of underwater video in deep-water surveys. These reefs form a major three-dimensional habitat in deeper waters where little other 'cover' for fish is available. Present data indicates that reefs occur from northern Norway to southwest Ireland. However, Lophelia is recorded throughout the eastern Atlantic continental margin, down to southwest Africa, in the western Atlantic, and Indian and Pacific oceans; it is likely that new reefs will continue to be discovered in many areas. Thus, not only is this a significant habitat on a local scale, but it may also occur over a very wide geographic scale.

The recently completed EU 5th Framework funded Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study (ACES) project study examined the association of fish species with Lophelia in the north-east Atlantic, including the Trondheim Fjord and Sula Ridge in Norway; Kosterfjord in Sweden; the Darwin Mounds to the west of Scotland; and the Rockall Bank, Rockall Trough and Porcupine Seabight off Ireland. The fish fauna associated with a shipwreck west of Shetland was also studied. Video and still camera footage of the deepwater coral reefs was examined and fish associated with the corals were identified, counted and their behaviour and habitat noted.

In total data were collected from 11 study sites in 8 locations, comprising in total: 52 hours of video and 15 rolls of still photographs. Video and still photographs were variously collected using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), a bed-hop camera, and the SOC camera systems WASP (wide angle survey photography vehicle), SHRIMP (seabed high resolution imaging platform) and Bathysnap (time-lapse camera mooring). It was possible to identify 90% of the fish observed to species level and 6.6% to genus or family level; only 3.6% were not identifiable. In total, twenty-five species of fish from 17 families were recorded, most of these species are of commercial importance. A guide to the fish recorded during the study is available on the EcoServe website (



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